Justice Thomas Lashes Out in Memoir

By Robert Barnes, Michael A. Fletcher and Kevin Merida
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 29, 2007

Justice Clarence Thomas settles scores in an angry and vivid forthcoming memoir, scathingly condemning the media, the Democratic senators who opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court, and the "mob" of liberal elites and activist groups that he says desecrated his life.

"My Grandfather's Son," for which Thomas has received a reported $1.5 million, is a 289-page memoir of his life in rural Georgia, his reliance on religious faith and his rise to the high court. His book ends with the day he was sworn in and contains only fleeting mentions of his time on the bench.

Thomas lovingly describes the iron-willed grandfather who raised him after his own father abandoned him as a toddler, praises the Roman Catholic Church for providing him with an education but criticizes it for not being as "adamant about ending racism then as it is about ending abortion now," and gives a detailed description of the confirmation hearings that electrified the nation in 1991 and the sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill that he said destroyed his reputation.

They are the most extensive comments Thomas has made about Hill since his confirmation. Though he has given numerous speeches since he has been on the court, he has rarely mentioned Hill or spoken in detail about the nomination fight. In the book, Thomas writes that Hill was the tool of liberal activist groups "obsessed" with abortion and outraged because he did not fit their idea of what an African American should believe.

"The mob I now faced carried no ropes or guns," Thomas writes of his hearings. "Its weapons were smooth-tongued lies spoken into microphones and printed on the front pages of America's newspapers. . . . But it was a mob all the same, and its purpose -- to keep the black man in his place -- was unchanged."

Thomas, 59, says in the foreword to the book, due to go on sale Monday, that he wrote it to "leave behind an accurate record of my own life as I remember it" rather than leave it to those "with careless hands or malicious hearts." He indicates he wrote it himself, with editing help from three others.

It has been eagerly awaited, especially in the conservative community, which is playing an active role in promoting it. The Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society and the National Center for Policy Analysis are sponsoring a six-city book tour, in which patrons will pay $30 to attend events in Thomas's honor.

The normally media-shy justice has interviews booked on "60 Minutes" tomorrow night and ABC on Monday as well as a 90-minute interview with radio host Rush Limbaugh, also scheduled for Monday. The book's contents had been closely guarded before its publication date of Oct. 1, the first day of the Supreme Court's new term, but The Washington Post purchased a copy yesterday at an area bookstore, where it had been placed on display.

Thomas writes of the hard lessons doled out by his grandfather, Myers Anderson, who raised him after his father abandoned the family and his mother was unable to care for her boys in Pin Point, Ga. "In every way that counts, I am my grandfather's son," Thomas writes, hence the title of the memoir.

Thomas's depiction of his grandfather is of a man unsparingly tough. Anderson wouldn't let him play on sports teams or join the Cub Scouts.

When Thomas informed the family that he was dropping out of the seminary, against the wishes of his grandfather, he learned, to his surprise, that Anderson had retreated to his garage and cried. Then his grandfather kicked him out of the house, telling him: "I'm finished helping you. You'll have to figure it out yourself. You'll probably end up like your no-good daddy or those other no-good Pinpoint Negroes."

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1974, Thomas spent the summer in St. Louis studying for the bar exam, where he was once so pressed for money that he attempted to sell his blood at a blood bank. He was turned down because his pulse rate was too low.

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